Lately, I’ve been watching episodes of the old television game show, “What’s My Line?” before turning in for the night. You’d have to be of a certain age to remember this show. It aired on CBS from 1950-1967. Hosted by John Charles Daly, the show featured celebrity panelists who, through a series of questions, tried…

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Since 2004, Akashic Books, an independent publisher in Brooklyn, has published a series of noir stories set in specific locales around the world. Although I’ve never thought of myself as a noir writer, I’ve been invited to contribute to two of the books in this series—Memphis, Noir, and the recently released, Columbus, Noir. In fact,…

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Easter Sundays have always reminded me of my mother and her endurance and her faith. Nearly eight years ago, on a Sunday, I suffered a stroke. I won’t go into all the details, only to say that at the hospital I felt my mother’s spirit with me. Two days later, I left the hospital with…

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Ever since we moved into our house three years ago, Cathy has wanted landscape lights out front, but to do so would require going underneath the concrete walkway so wire would stretch out on either side. The arduous task detained us. Last week, though, we had an irrigation system installed, and that job was going…

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  It’s a really windy day here in central Ohio, and consequently there’s a lot of noise—the sound of the wind, the jangle of wind chimes, the creaking of siding on my house. When I was running into that wind in the last of my five miles, it was hard to keep going. The gusts…

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One summer evening, not too long ago, our up-the-street neighbor was playing catch with his son while Cathy and I were out in our yard. At one point, a throw got away from them, and the ball came skittering down the street toward me. I chased it down and got ready to throw it back…

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There’s a point in Sue William Silverman’s new memoir, How to Survive Death and Other Inconveniences, where she’s writing about getting a phone call from her doctor, telling her she has an E. coli infection in her bladder. He prescribes the antibiotic, Macrobid. For Sue, who readily admits her hypochondria, the idea of taking the…

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I’ve always valued narrative as a way of thinking on the page. Whether writing fiction or nonfiction, I’ve always embraced story as a useful strategy for discovering what I think and feel and for learning what I’ve come to the page to say, as well as a means for practicing the art of empathy. It…

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Revision: Special Lessons from a Special Girl   Here are some stories about a four-year-old girl we’ll call Parker. Parker’s mother recently took her with her to a wake and told her she should be sure to ask whatever questions she might have. Taking note of the fact that the legs of the departed were…

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I remember many years ago reading this passage from Muriel Spark’s A Far Cry from Kensington: If you want to concentrate deeply on some problem, and especially some piece of writing or paper-work, you should acquire a cat. Alone with the cat in the room where you work … the cat will invariably get up…

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